Paciencia y Mendoza
This past week got a little hectic, so here I am, catching up on everything I’ve been neglecting, including my blog!
For starters, I finally have my schedule finalized! I may have alluded to this in earlier posts, but registering for courses here is a bit different than it is in the States. I thought I had my classes completely finalized two weeks ago. Last Monday, I learned that this was no longer the case when my Pilates class was cancelled last minute. So, I ran to the San Joaquin campus and camped out in front of the sports secretary’s office until I was able to add soccer to my schedule. It was a quick fix, but required a bit of flexibility (something I am quickly learning here). I now have my set schedule, which was such a relief.
Last week was also a short week because of Semana Santa. Classes at my campus were released at 1 pm on Thursday (at many other campuses they were cancelled due to student strikes), and the rest of the weekend was ours.
Thursday night, I left for Mendoza, Argentina with a group of my friends. Here was the plan: meet in the metro for the bus station early, leave Santiago at midnight, arrive in Mendoza at 8 am on Friday, have all of Friday and Saturday to explore the city, return to Santiago on Sunday. Once again, we learned the importance of flexibility in South America.
Thursday night, there were strikes in honor of the Dia del Joven Combatiente which was technically the next day. Since Friday was a holy day, they held the strikes Thursday night instead. This meant that we had to do a little extra planning to make sure we got to the bus station in plenty of time, our director told us to take the metro instead of buses, as buses would be delayed, and we planned on getting to the station early just in case anything happened. As it turns out, we didn’t need to be there early at all. Our bus was delayed 3 hours. No explanation was given, but I’m assuming that a combination of strikes and vacation traffic severely delayed the buses in Santiago. We also spent 4 hours at immigration, causing us to lose many of our precious hours in Mendoza.
Oh well, things can’t always go as anticipated. Now we know to give the buses a bit more time when we use them.
We arrived in Mendoza at 3:30 and headed for our hostel. From there, we found a much needed meal and then set out exploring. We stumbled upon an artesian fair in one of the main plazas and spent most of the rest of our evening poking through the fair. There were so many different interesting goods ranging from handcrafted jewelry to ceramic pieces, maté cups for the typical Argentinian drink, and leather goods. It was a great place to lose yourself and talk with Argentinians.
The next day, we spent most of our day on a Bike and Wine tour. Mendoza is known for its production of wine, olives, and chocolate and a tour seemed like the perfect way to spend our day. We paid the company a cover price which covered our taxis and bikes and were given a map along with discounts to three bodegas and sent to explore Mendoza.
We ended up going the the three recommended sites. One produced chocolates and olive oil while the other two were wineries. We spent the day biking around, stopped for a picnic lunch, took one winery tour, sat down for one tasting, and bought olive oil and chocolates for our friends and families. It was a relaxing and fun way to spend the day in Mendoza.
After our tour, we wanted a real meal, and sat down in a restaurant when suddenly it started hailing! The many Midwesterners in our group were trying to stick it out, but the restaurant staff eventually called us inside and reseated us. It was quite an adventure. We ended the day with gelato and walked back as the first rain I have experienced in South America started.
The next morning, we walked around the city in the rain for a bit before stopping for coffee. We caught our bus on time, and then were stalled for an hour in the parking lot. The bus that was supposed to arrive home at 8 pm didn’t get home until 11. Once again, we’re learning about patience and flexibility here. The upside of getting back so late was that I got to learn how to use the micro to get home from downtown. We also learned to schedule earlier buses. I’m just going to call the bus experience a learning experience. After all, we got back in one piece, just a bit late, which as I’m learning is not the end of the world.